More than likely, if you have been diagnosed with symptoms of low thyroid, chances are the real cause of your thyroid problem has gone undiagnosed.
The typical treatment for low thyroid is simply thyroid replacement therapy; however, for most people, this method merely improves their condition on a short-term basis.
The fact of the matter is that the leading cause of low thyroid function is surprisingly not a faulty thyroid, but rather an autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. When this occurs, the immune cells mistakenly attack healthy thyroid tissues, impairing the thyroid’s ability to produce thyroid hormones. Over time, this leads to hypothyroidism or low thyroid activity.
Despite Hashimoto’s prevalence, testing for these thyroid antibodies is often overlooked. Studies have shown that approximately 90% of low thyroid function is contributed to autoimmune thyroiditis.
Considering the strong relationship between the two conditions, it is surprising that the treatment for autoimmunity and underactive thyroids are dramatically different!
While millions of people suffering from low thyroid function are receiving one-note treatment plans, a more detrimental and complex condition may be brewing beneath the surface.
Why Is Hashimoto’s Chronically Overlooked?
Conventional and functional medical communities both agree that HT is the number one cause of low thyroid function, so why the chronic misdiagnosis? The truth is that Hashimoto’s often progresses slowly and silently. It could take years–possibly decades–before symptoms ever surface. For these reasons, most patients are not thoroughly tested for this condition. Symptoms of underactive thyroid such as fatigue, weight gain, and inflammation, are frequently mistaken for other conditions, leaving HT undiagnosed.
New mothers repeatedly find themselves in this predicament because their risks for developing symptoms of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are much higher.
HT symptoms in new moms are misdiagnosed as exhaustion or postpartum depression. Same goes for perimenopausal women. Hormonal changes and aging are common explanations for why they struggle with fatigue and brain fog. While they leave the doctor’s office feeling fraught over their new normal, their thyroid continues to be destroyed by undetermined factors.
Do I Have Hashimoto’s?
An effective way to test for HT is to look for antibodies. Having TSH and T4 levels out of optimal range is also an indicator, but since thyroid autoimmunity fluctuates between silent and active stages, thyroid hormone testing may not provide the best results. If antibodies are present in your system, it shows us that the immune system is targeting thyroid cells as foreign invaders and are working to destroy them.
There are two main antibodies that are prevalent when testing for autoimmune thyroiditis. Thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) is the most commonly elevated antibody, and thyroglobulin antibodies (TgAb) is the lesser one of the two; however, it should always be tested. Testing positive for either of these antibodies indicates autoimmunity.
Find the Provider for You
The thyroid hormone plays a critical role in many of our metabolic processes, including
- Bowel movements
- Nail growth
If you think you may be suffering from symptoms of low thyroid, make sure to get tested for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis as well. Find a functional medicine practitioner that understands accurate testing, proper diagnosis, and effective treatment for your unique body.